Cuddie’s Cave

A mile-long (1.6 km) walk on the Kyloe Hills leads to a natural cave in open woodland. Marked on the map as ‘St Cuthbert’s Cave’, it was more popularly known as Cuddie’s Cave, ‘Cuddie’ being Cuthbert’s familiar Northumbrian name. Some said it was where St Cuthbert’s coffin rested on the monks’ flight from Lindisfarne before the marauding Danes; others that it was an occasional resting place of the saint himself when, as Bishop of Lindisfarne, he used to make journeys through his diocese.

It was said to have been much later the lurking place of a Border reiver (robber), who hoarded his gear in the crags on Belford Moor, which included Cockenheugh, Collierheugh, and Bounder’s or Bowden Doors Crags, near Lyham. On one occasion, however, he was surprised by the people of the farm at Old Hazelrigg in the granary stealing corn, and they killed him. His ghost had haunted the place thereafter.

According to report, his dim form was sometimes seen about the Crags, bewailing the loss of his buried treasure, and crying:

In Collier heugh there’s gear eneugh,

In Cocken heugh there’s mair,

But I’ve lost the keys of Bowden doors,

I’m ruined for evermair.

He also sometimes appeared as a dun-coloured horse or pony, known as the ‘Hazelrigg Dunnie’. His pranks seemed to consist chiefly of frightening children and villagers, and were not unlike those of other bogey beasts (see BRIGG, Lincolnshire). Often in the morning, when the ploughman had caught his horse (as he thought) in the field and brought him home and harnessed him, he would be horrified to see the harness hit the ground and what he had thought was his own docile animal already far away, kicking up his heels and ‘scouring across the country like the wind’.

There was a quarry on the way to Hazelrigg, of which the steepest part was pointed out as the place over which the Dunnie used to dangle his legs ‘when he took an airing’. During high winds, a peculiar singing coming from one of the windows of the farmhouse of North Hazelrigg was attributed to the Dunnie, although later it turned out to be made by a strip of paper.

According to other accounts, the Dunnie was a kind of brownie, who created uproar by turning the furniture topsy-turvy overnight. He was thought to be instrumental in changing human babies for fairy changelings, and, when the midwife came to a confinement, sometimes substituted himself for the horse, landing both her and the man behind whom she was riding pillion in a morass.

These traditions come from around the middle of the nineteenth century. Mrs Balfour added in 1904:

‘I have made enquiries about this sprite … Three persons to whom I have spoken claim to have seen ‘Dunnie’ in the shape of a donkey; others have heard complaints of his behaviour at births. But he has not been seen, so far as I can hear, of later years. However, an accident took place about two miles from Hazelrig [sic] last summer (1893), when an old horse (in harness) got frightened and bolted; and I heard the explanation offered: ‘That’s no’ a cannie part over there; are ye sure it was th’ au’d horse, an’ no’ suthin’ playin’ [pretending] to be him?’



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008

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